Lunch and Learn: Student Research Fellowship Symposium Students 9/24

This August, Student Research Fellows presented their research and findings at a Research Symposium. Many of these students were from the Honors Program, so we are having a special Lunch & Learn  presented by four of the Student Research Fellows: Eleanor Ohm, Danielle Winkler, Shaughna Langerak, and Rachel Kempisty. These four Honors students will explain a little about the Student Research Fellowship program, how you can participate in the future, and then present their individual research projects and the results. Below are short synopses of each student’s research:

Functional Study of Drosophila Activin Signaling in Aging Regulation in Fruit Flies

Student Researcher: Shaughna Langerak, Faculty Researcher: Changqi C. Zhu, Ph.D.

“Activin is a branch of Transforming Growth Factor β (TGF-β) signaling in fruit flies. It is largely unchanged from fruit flies to humans and known to play a large role during development. Our study has shown that down regulating various signaling components of Activin in adult fruit flies shortened life span and that overexpression of some components of this pathway extended life span. We believe a thorough study of the function of Activin in aging regulation in fruit flies can shed light on the roles that vertebrate TGF-β signaling plays in aging regulation and diseases development during aging in humans.”

Contemporary Vaccination Trends Survey

Student Researcher: Danielle Winkler, Faculty Researcher: Emmanuel Jadhav

“Vaccination coverage levels among young adults are low. This could lead to epidemics of vaccine preventable diseases. The study used a cross sectional study design to identify contemporary vaccination trends in young adults. The objectives of the study include identifying trends associated with vaccination benefits, barriers, and influences and categorizing characteristics of young adults by vaccination waiver status. Preliminary findings suggest that the most highly rated benefit of vaccination was control against disease; the strongest barrier was pain or fear of needles; and the factor that most influences vaccination choice is vaccine safety.”

‘Cops and Robbers’ On Graphs

Student Researcher: Eleanor Ohm, Faculty Researcher: Erin Militzer

“Cops and Robber is a game introduced in the early 1980s. The first player has a set of cops, who is placed first, and the second has a single robber who is placed after the cops. The objective of the game is for the cop(s) to catch the robber by occupying the same vertex, or dot, through a series of movements (along one edge to an adjacent vertex per turn). The cop number of a graph is how many cops it would take to capture the robber. We looked at a variation of the game where we have fewer cops than the cop number. We then consider how many devices the cop(s) will need to win. The devices are traps and doors which are placed on vertices to prevent the robber from entering. Traps are able to be moved and doors are stationary. Our research has found general results on the number and placement of doors on various classes of graphs and specific graphs. We also found strategies for a series of movements of traps that make the cops able to win.”

Changes in the Hippocampal Neurochemistry after Spinal Cord Injury

Student Researcher: Rachel Kempisty, Faculty Researcher: M. Beth Zimmer

“This summer Dr. Zimmer and Rachel Kempisty examined learning and memory in spinal cord injured (SCI) Sprague-Dawley rats. Rachel’s role included performing surgical procedures on rats, assessing learning and memory through the Morris Water Maze, and comparing data to a previous study involving Long Evans rats. Their results showed that SCI impairs a rat’s ability to learn and retain short-term memories, and the results were similar between rat species. They are now in the process of investigating learning and memory at the neurological level.  Further research will be done in order to examining varying amounts of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus of the rat brains through the use of the Western Blot analysis.  Analyzing BDNF levels in the upcoming weeks may help to explain differences in learning and memory in SCI and control rats.”



This Lunch & Learn will take place on Thursday, September 24th at 11am. Pizza will be provided for all those who attend. To RSVP please email before noon on Wednesday, September 23rd.